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Front-Wheel Forerunner

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1930 Cord L-29 Phaeton Sedan

The Auburn-Cord-duesenberg triumvirate was Errett Lobban Cord’s ambitious attempt to merge three tiers of luxury automobiles. The venture also afforded him his long-sought opportunity to create an eponymous marque, which fell between the more moderately priced Auburn and the flagship Duesenberg. The model L-29, named for the year of its introduction, was not only the first Cord but also the first front-wheel-drive production automobile. It employed a robust Lycoming straight-eight that was turned around, with the transmission forward of the engine to drive the front wheels. Such drivetrain architecture allowed for a low-slung chassis unencumbered by a driveshaft and rear differential. The elegant phaeton sedan coachwork of the car shown here, one of four body styles, mirrored an era that was coming to an end. The stock market crashed shortly after the L-29’s debut, and the ensuing Great Depression enervated all three brands. Cord ceased production of the L-29 in 1931 and shuttered in 1937.

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